Definitions of Sprouted Grains
There is at this time no regulated definition of "sprouted grain." Consumers who want to understand what they are eating, and companies who are considering manufacturing or marketing sprouted grains may find it useful to start by reviewing how AACCI, formerly known as the American Association of Cereal Chemists and one of the world's leading authorities on grains, defines sprouted grains; their definition has subsequently been endorsed by USDA.
In early 2008, AACCI's Board of Directors decreed that, "Malted or sprouted grains containing all of the original bran, germ, and endosperm shall be considered whole grains as long as sprout growth does not exceed kernel length and nutrient values have not diminished. These grains should be labeled as malted or sprouted whole grain."
Then, we asked different companies making sprouted grain products to explain their definition of sprouted grains, or explain their process, and we received the following statements:
The sprouting process is known to enhance nutritional availability and produce or increase other plant bioactive compounds, notably those with anti-oxidant properties. At Edme, we have used a patented process to stabilise the sprouted grains so that they can be used as inclusions in bread and other baked product recipes. The concept of sprouted whole grains in bakery applications is established in many parts of Europe and we are seeing particular demand from the craft bakery sector in these markets.
Essential Eating Sprouted Foods
Here at Essential Eating, our sprouted grain is high-quality grain which has been sprouted under precise, controlled conditions of time and temperature. When a sample, ground into flour, has a Falling Number* equal to or lower than half its original Falling Number, we know that the enzyme action of sprouting is at its peak, and we immediately dry the grain to lock in this optimum sprouting level. The dried, sprouted grain can then be ground into sprouted flour.
*The Falling Number Test, an internationally standardized method, measures the alpha-amylase enzyme activity in flour to determine how much sprout a grain has achieved and to assure the grain has not been drowned. While a lower falling number indicates high enzyme (sprouting) activity, it is very important to compare the falling number prior to sprouting with the falling number after sprouting, to accurately measure how much sprout action has occurred. A grain that started with a falling number of 350 and is now 150 has sprouted more completely than a grain that started at 250 and is now 150.
Food for Life
In our Ezekiel breads, we have six different grains, legumes and seeds. Each of the grains (wheat, barley, spelt, millet) and legumes (lentils, soybeans) are germinated for different lengths of time for maximum nutrition depending on the product we are producing (Sprouted Grain Breads, Sprouted Grain English Muffins, Sprouted Grain Tortillas, Sprouted Grain Cereal or Sprouted Grain Pasta).
We believe in sprouting the grains we use in our breads because sprouting is the best way to release all of the vital nutrients stored in whole grains*. To unlock this dormant food energy and maximize nutrition and flavor, we add a carefully calculated amount of filtered water to healthy, whole, organically-grown grains which are already high in nutrients.
As sprouting begins, beneficial enzymes are activated which cause the grains to become a living food. For example, enzymes such as amylase are released which go to work converting the starch into maltose, lowering the glycemic index of the grain. Enzymes also break down phytic acid (a natural absorption-inhibitor found in grains and other foods), making the nutrients more accessible. All of this helps explain why our exclusive sprouting process not only significantly increases vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and B-vitamins, but also causes a natural change allowing the protein and carbohydrates to be assimilated by the body more efficiently. Finally, our proprietary baking process preserves these valuable nutrients and retains the important natural fiber and bran.
*Source: Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, San Diego, CA
Shiloh Farms began baking sprouted grain breads nearly 40 years ago because consumers demanded a healthier alternative to the mass-produced baked goods of that era. Soaking and sprouting grains before baking was a well-known step in the creation of hearty artisan breads, but little was known of the chemistry behind the scenes. Now, science is leaving little doubt that sprouted grains provide consumers with health benefits over unsprouted grains. Studies point to phytic acid reduction that results in greater bioavailabilty of nutrients like iron, zinc and magnesium. Germination increases folate content. Starches are converted into more easily digestible energy. At Shiloh Farms, we use several different approaches to sprouting grains, tailoring the germination time to suit the needs of different products and different grains. This variety allows us to provide consumers with many choices to take advantage of the healthy benefits of sprouted grain foods, from raw grains to Essential Eating flours to pretzels and noodles and hearty whole grain sprouted bread.
Silver Hills Bakery
At Silver Hills Bakery, we believe that sprouting is the only way to release all the vital nutrients stored in whole grains. The sprouting process activates beneficial enzymes which cause the grains to sprout and become living, nutrient-rich, food. Documented stores of vitamins and minerals dramatically increase over the amount available in normal refined flour. With sprouting there is an entire polysaccharide change in the kernel. Starches in the grains are converted into maltose -- which is ordinarily done by the body during digestion -- thereby predigesting nutrients for you. The enzymatic action enables the body to assimilate the vitamins and minerals more efficiently. Plus, the sprouting process naturally increases the protein content and decreases the calories and carbohydrates found in the original grain. Our entire sprouting and mixing process takes 50 hours, after which the dough is baked, resulting in a flavor-packed, nutritious product.
Valley Select / Sun Valley Rice
Sprouted brown Rice is an emerging health food. The germination process liberates the nutrients to achieve maximum nutritional value and flavor. Sprouted brown rice is unique because it has gone through the process of partial-germination. The sprouting (germination) process adds a variety of nutrients through the activation of dormant enzymes, while undergoing measured high-humidity treatment. At Valley Select, the rice kernel is sprouted until the flavor and nutritional benefits are maximized. Subsequently, the germination process is interrupted and the kernel moisture is reduced to pre-germination levels, preserving the nutritional benefits and retaining the function of a conventional rice.
Photo credits this page: Silver Hills Bakery